TL;DR: This is the first Chromebook effort that fulfills the ChromeOS mission: good quality, excellent (MacBook Air-like) design, low cost and functional, and easy to use. It won’t replace a mid-high end machine, but, for people with basic needs or who want an inexpensive second computer, this is a no brainer at $250.
Google’s Android and ChromeOS represent two different visions of the future of computing from inside the same company. The Android vision is a touch-enabled platform with apps that has been in vogue since the iPhone was released in 2007. The ChromeOS is the realization of the decades-old network client computer—which is just a browser as a user interface for a bunch of cloud services.
Android has clearly been popular on both phones and now tablets, but Chrome sales have been pretty lackluster until now. From my point of view, that’s due to a couple of reasons. For one, the devices, made by Samsung and Asus, were lackluster in speed compared to the Windows and Mac counterparts. ChromeOS devices should be faster than comparably equipped Macs and PCs because there is no overhead—it is just a browser. Yet the CR-48 and again with the second-generation Chromebooks weren’t noticeably faster than cheap netbooks. That’s the other problem: Chromebooks weren’t cheap – compared to similarly specced PCs, anyway. Often, you’d be able to find a cheaper Windows PC on sale that otherwise was the same or better.
So, to break it down: Chromebooks were overpriced and slow (and the design wasn’t very inspired).
Then came the third generation…